Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Last Day at SBL

The Pauline soteriological group had a good session of Israel and supersession. Was Paul a supersessionist?

Bruce Longenecker presented a good paper that included a taxonomy of various types of supersession. The controversial aspect was whether those who advocate a two covenant view of salvation (one for Jews and another for Gentiles) represent a form of soft supersession since they critique Israel's failure to embrace the Gentile mission.

The strength's of Longenecker's proposal were: (a) Paul believed that Israel had a soteriological deficit and not merely opposition to the Gentile mission; (b) Paul's supersession is part of an indigenized Judaic supersession; (c) Gal. 2.9 implies that there was a gospel for the uncircumcized; (d) Paul's concern for the poor shows his compassion for Israel (Longenecker is writing a book on this later theme).

Douglas Harink argues that the role of Israel is neither here nor there for Paul. The centre of Paul's theology is its apocalyptic dimension and the defeat of the old age through the death of Christ. The messianic community (church) is not a replacement of Israel, but a symbol of the new creation to come; in one sense the new community will be replaced by the new creation.

I will now elaborate on Dunn's response to Bailey:

(1) Bailey overstates his case by saying that 90% of words were preserved in a given account.
(2) Weeden applied Bailey's theory "too woodenly" (Dunn's words) and the informal controlled tradition has no exact and concise criteria.
(3) Contrary to Weeden's supposition of Bailey's anecdotal evidence, the parallel stories actually reads like two juxtaposed versions of the Synoptics.
(4) At the end of the day the versions Weeden offers, whatever their differences, are still the same fundamental story.
(5) Weeden assumes that the stories have an original version upon which to be compared with R. Hogg's stories. Yet if the story was performed several times there can be no talk of an original.

I would add:

(6) Even if all of Bailey's examples are not good examples of "informal controlled oral tradition", Bailey's model is still intuitively compelling.
(7) I would add that the absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence - since all it would take is some young anthropologist to go to the woopimanagooey tribe of New Zealand and discover a tribe that transmits its traditions analagous to Bailey's model.


Peter M. Head said...


You said,
"Even if all of Bailey's examples are not good examples of "informal controlled oral tradition", Bailey's evidence is still intuitively compelling."

If the model has no evidential base then it might be 'intuitively compelling' but it has a few problems.


Michael F. Bird said...

Thanks Pete. I meant to say that the "model" is still intuitively compelling.

eddie said...

In terms of gospel studies, particularly those concerned with the 'historical' Jesus, theories of transmission and composition are of great significance.

This concerns me! 1) because there are so many competing hypotheses, (literary and oral, and plurality within each), 2) because we have little explicit evidence concerning how traditions were treated (e.g. transmitted, preserevd, altered, used, etc.), 3) because the hypothesis one settles upon has a tremendous impact on how one treats and sources, and thus, the methods one employs and the picture of Jesus that results.